Slim chance for Umno-PAS pact to appeal to Sarawak, say analysts

Ida Nadirah Ibrahim
On Monday, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang was reported to have said that Gabungan Parti Sarawak is more trustworthy than Pakatan Harapan (PH). — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — Ahead of the Sarawak state election due by September 2021, PAS is eyeing to collaborate with Gabungan Parti Sarawak as a means to stop DAP from winning in the Borneo state.

On Monday, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang was reported to have said that the Sarawak coalition is more trustworthy than Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Despite his ambition, the question would be as to whether the Umno-PAS collaboration would be able to resonate with the Sarawak voters, in which experts said there would be a slim chance, mostly due to the different ideologies championed by the Islamist-party and GPS.

With over 70 per cent of the Sarawak demographic to be made up of non-Muslims, Professor Jeniri Amir from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said the ethnic composition is more complicated than Peninsular Malaysia, which is a Malay-Muslim majority.

“I do not think GPS is going to walk with Umno and PAS as the parties are not on the same wavelength and have different stance on quite a number of issues.

“In the context of the socio-politics of Sarawak, issues of race and religion is very sensitive. With the kind of narrative utilised by PAS, it does not really resonate with the people of Sarawak,” Jeniri told Malay Mail when contacted.

Based on a recent survey conducted on 1,000 respondents, Jeniri said he found that 92 per cent said they had disagreed PAS entering into Sarawak.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's senior lecturer Suffian Mansor said while Umno on its own would be able to resonate with Sarawakians due to the former’s multiracial approach, however its cooperation with PAS has tainted its chances to penetrate into the Borneo state.

He said PAS’ Islamic approach in its policies makes it difficult for the party to be accepted by the people of Sarawak.

“It is difficult to appeal Sarawak people because of different mentality it would be tricky, especially since PAS had previously made hurtful comments about the Sarawakians,” said Suffian, citing the incident when Hadi had previously referred to the Iban to have a cawat (loin cloth) mindset as an example.

“That kind of comment for the Sarawakian is quite nasty. Many still remember the things said by Hadi.

“It is up to them how to tackle to gain the support of the people. But it would take a long time for people to accept.”

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya's Malay Studies Academy deputy director Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the Umno-PAS union has no impact on the political scenario in Sarawak.

He said this is because Umno is not established in Sarawak and PAS is seen as irrelevant as the party does not have any seats in the state.

“PAS themselves are also fighting against Amanah here in the Peninsular, which in the future would create three-cornered fights in several areas.

“Therefore their union does not have any significance to Sarawak as PAS has other matters to deal with, and their lack of popularity in the state shows a slim chance for a political pact with GPS,” Awang told Malay Mail.

Related Articles Ikut MB Terengganu, Abang Jo jawab Hadi datang Sarawak What’s wrong with meeting Hadi? I met your leaders as well, Sarawak CM tells Pakatan Cabinet will discuss registering 18-year-olds for Sarawak polls, other by-elections, says youth minister